Time to dethatch your lawn, or is it? Do you have a thatch problem? is it the right time of year? What equipment do I need? You've come to the right place to find those answers.
Do you have a thatch problem, or just think that it is the right thing to do? To find this answer follow one of the links to my thatch page where we will discuss thatch and why it may be a problem for your lawn.
Is it the right time of year to dethatch your lawn? The best time to dethatch your lawn is just before your lawn's most vigorous growth cycle. The best time to dethatch a cool season lawn is late August to Early October depending on your area. During this time the grass is growing vigorously and should recover quickly. Dethatching in the fall is also recommended because at this time the weed seeds are not germinating so that your grass does not have to compete with them. If you are dethatching in the fall, just be sure that you do it at least 30 days before the end of the mowing season. For cool season lawns you can also dethatch in the spring before the grass starts to green up. Sometimes this is easier because the grass has not come up yet and it is easy to get at the thatch. I also do dethatching in the spring on some lawns because that is when I get some new accounts. Just the other day I met with a new customer and gave a recommendation of what his lawn needs for the summer. The first thing I noticed was that I felt like I was walking on a waterbed. After taking a core sample I noticed that he had a thatch layer that was almost 4 inches thick. Its going to take some doing but this guy can not wait for me to dethatch in the fall, his lawn is not going to get enough air & water over the summer. Warm season lawns are best dethatched in late spring or early summer after they have greened up.
What equipment do you need for dethatching? There are a number of different types of equipment for dethatching. For information on these please go to my Lawn dethatcher page. (currently not available)
So now you have determined that you need to dethatch your lawn, and you have chosen the equipment that works best for you. Lets take a quick look at how to do this.
Dethatching your lawn involves actually cutting through the thatch layer with knife like blades and removing the debris. It is easiest to do this when the soil is lightly moist, but make sure it is not saturated or the equipment will tear and pull at the soil rather than slicing the thatch.
Mow your lawn at its lowest recommended height for it's type.
Mark all obstacles, such as sprinkler heads, shallow irrigation pipes, shallow wiring, and any other items that may get damaged by the equipment hitting it.
Dethatch your lawn using the equipment that you find will work best for you. If you are using a vertical mower or power rake you may need to make two passes perpendicular to each other. If your thatch is thick don't attempt to remove it all in one day. Dethatching is hard on your lawn so go easy on it. I once bid on a lawn that had a very thick thatch layer. I didn't get the job. The company that did obviously did not know much about dethatching and by the time they were done her lawn was mostly just dirt, they had ripped out almost all the grass in trying to remove all the thatch at once. Guess who got the call to come in and try to repair what they had damaged.
After you are done dethatching you will have a large amount of debris on your yard. This will probably be to much to just leave on the yard in hopes that it will decompose, so you will need to rake it up. If you have a grass collection system on your mower it will be much easier to use that.
Dethatching your lawn is very stressful on it, but if done at the proper time of year, it will recover quickly. To help it along you may want to fertilize and water at this time.
Do you have areas in your lawn that are thin or just not growing very well? The steps above for dethatching are basically the same for overseeding, so just keep going and overseed those areas that need it.
Until next time - Have a happy lawn!
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